So I usually don’t go outside the realm of my friends and family for advice, but then again, I’ve never been this confused before. I am currently in a relationship and have been for the past 4 years. Before this relationship…like 10 years ago, I became friends with this one guy and this friendship usually flirted along the lines of “friends”, then “friends with sexual tension”, then “friends with benefits (making out)”, then “dating for like a month”, and then back to “friends with sexual tension”. We’ve always lived a few states away, so often we would go a while without communicating, and then after a few months, talk and talk forever. After I began dating my current boyfriend, our communication died down a bit. We’d seen each other about 4 times in the past four years (and this is without my boyfriend knowing…he’s the jealous kind) to talk, catch up, hang out…whatever. Lately, though, I feel like things have changed. After not talking for a few months, he suddenly shows up at my work with a big bouquet of flowers and apologizes for not being in communication with me, saying that my friendship means a lot to him. It was a shocker…especially since he lives 4 hours away! So we talk for a few months and recently we hung out. He would sit very close to me, touch my arm, touch my leg, spend a bunch of money on me…ect. He knows I’m in a relationship (and he knows my standards). Right after we hung out, he called and texted saying what a wonderful time he had and we need to hang out every weekend…ect. We stayed in communication for a few days, but then there was nothing….and has been nothing for a little while. He’s a social person, but has only steadily dated one person since I’ve known him. I just don’t get what he’s doing and what he means by it. I am not a clingy person by any means and I don’t really talk to him unless he calls first. Can you give me an idea of what might be going on in his head?
Comment: Man, these men in some of the emails this week are surely giving us guys a bad rap, aren’t they? Geez. So this guy knows you’re in a relationship and says he wants to hang out every weekend with you? That’s just wrong. He’s overstepping his boundaries. You’ve got a 4 year boyfriend. Concentrate on him and your relationship and quit thinking about weird, clingy guy that wants to hang out with you on the weekends and appears and disappears in your life. Not worth your time.
Dr. Reality Steve,
My question is essentially about how to tell whether a long-term, long-distance relationship is worth it. This is a situation where I probably know the answer and just don’t want to admit it, and I would appreciate some honest, unbiased feedback. Plus, I’m sure it will be helpful to me to write it all out and process my thoughts as I go.
Some background: I am 29 and the guy I’m dating is 28. We have been dating for a year and a half. We met when we were both living in a moderately small town that had an air force base. He was there with the military as a student pilot and I lived and worked there as an attorney. We met and dated while he was still living there for about 5 months, then he finished his training and left. Since then, I have changed jobs and moved away also to a larger, more vibrant city. We have both gone through some pretty significant life changes (moving and major changes and developments in our respective careers, meeting new friends and being around new co-workers, etc.) during the year and a half we have been dating and yet, we have stayed in close contact and continued to visit each other as often as we have been able. Our current situation is that we live half the country away from each other with a two hour time difference between us (which makes it harder for us to talk regularly because our schedules are not in sync), he has recently started some very intense training with the Navy that will last 9 months, and I have just started a new job as a law professor that will require a lot of work and focus on my part over the next 8-9 months. Oh, and I have a very active eight-year-old son that I raise entirely on my own, just to throw that into the mix.
As a short summary of the dynamic of our relationship, I suppose I should begin by explaining that when I say “relationship”, I don’t mean a committed boyfriend/girlfriend thing, but rather a situation that walks like a duck and talks like a duck, but isn’t called a duck. We talk to each other and treat each other as if we are dating, but we are not an official couple. We really are very close and I would consider him to be one of the best friends I have, as well as someone I adore and care very deeply about.
He and I are both extremely introverted and require a good deal of personal space, which means we aren’t attached at the hip with constant communication. However, he is not always very consistent and reliable with this. Generally, we talk on Skype several times a week, usually for an hour at a time. We stay in touch through text frequently as well. But our communication seems to come and go in cycles. He will basically disappear for a week or weeks at a time. At this point, I have to say that I honestly do not have any trust issues with him. I do not believe that he is or ever has dated or messed around with any other girls since he and I met. I could certainly be wrong about that, but for now, I’m ruling that out. I think he is just somewhat immature and selfish and to some extent has become spoiled on not being responsible to anything or anyone. At one point, he did ask me to be his gf, but ended that official designation after about two months, saying that he thought it wasn’t practical for us to do that given the long-term distance between us. And I would probably agree with that.
So here’s the gist of my question: Am I crazy for allowing myself to remain emotionally attached to this guy? I think he is truly one-of-a-kind and love the closeness and conversations that we have. Right now, with both of our careers being what they are, it is impossible for one of us to move to be with the other (and complicated even further by the fact that I have a child) and will remain that way for probably at least 3 years. We have had serious, honest conversations about the future and have talked about marriage and children and how/whether that would work for us. I genuinely believe that he cares a great deal about me and he has been a tremendous support system for me during some very difficult things I experienced in my career and personal life. Although there is no immediate possibility of something more serious, given how I feel about this guy right now and how much I enjoy having him in my life, I would definitely be willing to hang in there in order to have something more down the road. However, the part that troubles me is that he just kind of comes and goes emotionally. I have talked to him about this and let him know that it hurts me to feel like I can’t rely on what I’m going to get from him – most of the time he’s great, but some of the time, he’s totally distant. He has acknowledged that he could do better about that and vowed to try and be more sensitive about how that affects me. But that doesn’t change the fact that it still happens.
What do you think? Am I getting taken for a ride? Or is this just a hard situation where, if we are both willing to communicate openly with each other and we both genuinely care about each other and want to be in each other’s lives, we should keep hanging in there and see what happens? Is there anything about what I’ve described that jumps out at you and indicates what is really going on with him that I absolutely should not ignore?
Your advice is usually candid, insightful and generally very helpful. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Thanks!
Comment: Him coming and going is definitely a red flag. Especially if you guys are as close as you say you are. But since he’s not technically your boyfriend, I guess he’s allowed to do that since he doesn’t owe you anything. I think you need to decide if you want to stay in this “if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck it is a duck” relationship. If you do, then I guess you can expect this type of behavior to continue since you’re not his girlfriend.
Is there anyone else you’re interested in? Have you wanted to date other people but this guy is in your life the way he is so you back off any potential suitors? You need to decide what you officially want from this guy because as long as he’s in your life as this quasi friend/boyfriend, seems like you’re just gonna have a bunch of questions constantly running through your head. Just ask yourself if you think this guy is worth sticking things out with. If he is, then stay with it, but try to get an idea from him what he sees you as. If not, sounds like things are going to continue the way they have been.
Dear Dr. Reality Steve,
I hope you are doing well, I’m puzzled with male behavior and I thought you may know the answer.
So last time I wrote you, I mentioned that I was in a serious relationship with a very nice, hardworking, smart, good looking guy. Since we started dating things were great, we have the same age, family values, religion, job ambitions, political ideas, etc. He used to say that “we have a strong connection” , I know, cheesy but true. It all seemed to fit very well and we seemed to care for each other in the same degree. We are in our early 30s and when we started dating we said that we both wanted on be in a long term relationship.
A couple of months into our relationship he got a promotion and got transferred to FL, while I had to stay in NYC because of my job. That was 3 months ago. We kept in touch: we spoke or texted every day, had video calls, etc and agreed that we were going to do as much as we could to see each other as often as possible until I got a transfer to FL. I’ve been trying to get a job in FL but so far no luck.
Nevertheless, over the last weeks something changed: he wouldn’t answer my calls or text me as often, he would say that he was having a very, very frustrating time at his office and with his family (his family is in FL). I didn’t want to be “the needy girlfriend” who was asking for attention so I listened to him and didnt put any pressure for him to keep in touch at the same rate as before. Knowing his demanding bosses, I thought he was telling me the truth.
He is on a business trip in Atlanta this week. He told me about the trip last month and asked me if I could fly to see him there. I obviously said yes, and got the flight tickets. I could only get one day off from work tomorrow (I’m literally flying “in and out”) but I was (am) ready to go. Again, we haven’t seen each other since May. When I told him I got the tickets, a couple of weeks ago, he seemed happy but not too excited. I didn’t understand the lack of enthusiasm, since he was the one who invited me to meet him there. I asked him why he didn’t seem excited and he said, again, that he was having a frustrating day at his job.
He texted me yesterday saying “I am too overwhelmed, things have changed on my end, and I don’t think it is a good idea that you meet me in ATL.” That was all, no further explanations. And he unfriended me on facebook the same day. I called the airline but since I got my tickets at a discount, I can’t cancel them nor get a refund. So I’m stuck with these tickets, either I use them or lose them.
Of course I feel terrible because I really love him, so I sent him a nice email telling him that I understood how overwhelming things have been for him, and that I wanted to see him, even if it was just for dinner, as friends, given that we haven’t seen each other in 3 months. I mentioned that I couldn’t cancel my flights and that I could still use them to see him. I asked why he had unfriended me on Facebook and whether he was pissed at me for something. I added that because of the friendship that we once had, I was there for him if he wanted to talk, and of course I would still like to see him. He hasn’t answered neither my email nor my texts.
So the question for Dr. Reality Steve is:
Why he doesn’t want to have the “break up” talk? Is that something normal among men and I should get used to that in my future relationships?
I mean, I feel I haven’t done anything to him that would grant him giving me the cold shoulder (with a text!!). And with his lack of response I am left to wonder whether he is OK, whether he met someone, whether it was something I did or say, whether he ever loved me, etc. It’s so frustrating!
I’ve thought about taking that flight and go to his hotel to see him (I know where he is staying and I’m really dying to see him), but I don’t want to beg. On the flip side, I have the hope that if he sees me, he would at least tell me what’s going on face to face rather than ignoring my texts/emails.
Comment: Unfortunately, he seems about as mature as Chris Bukowski. Dude is seeing someone else, and I guarantee he’s got another chick in Atlanta. Sorry. If he wanted to see you, he’d be excited about you having tickets and seeing him since you haven’t since May, but he’s not. He’s a douche. And it doesn’t look like you’re gonna get any answers from him either. Sounds like he’s moved on and doesn’t know how to tell you. Sucks, but it is what it is.
Dear Dr. Reality Steve,
Longtime fan of the site, first time writer. I’ll give you my situation…but I think I already know what you’re going to say.
I’m 22 and am about to start graduate school in a city an hour and a half away from my hometown. At the job I was working in my hometown, there was a 34 year old guy who would sometimes flirt with me. He’s separated from his wife and has been for months but they have a couple kids together and he and his wife are living in separate bedrooms. Anyways, it was just innocent flirting at work until my last night there. That night, he asked for my number and we hung out with a bunch of other people from our job. I was out of town for the next couple days and we started talking a lot. Our texting got progressively flirty, and he was literally texting me every hour or two that I was gone and we were laughing constantly.
I got home and had 3 days before I moved. I wanted to hang out with him, but he was being cagey and wouldn’t try to initiate anything until it was too late and I already had plans. So I moved, and he kept texting me. At one point, he left his friends to talk to me on the phone for an hour. The next day, he decides to ditch his plans for the night and spontaneously come see me. We ended up having sex and he stayed the night before leaving early in the morning because he had to get to work. So that leads to now. He texted me when he got home and told me later on that he thought I was beautiful. When I’d respond to try to bring him into talking, he wouldn’t respond. He did say that he wanted to see me again but when I suggested meeting up again, he stopped responding. It’s totally unlike him to text me this little, and I don’t get it.
So here’s where my thoughts are. I don’t find it coincidental that literally the day after I put out, he decides to all of a sudden be too busy to talk to me. He knows that for the next week until school starts, I have a lot of free time, but as soon as school starts I’m going to be ridiculously busy. So he knows I’m not really looking for anything. Also, you’ve said in the past that you wouldn’t go out with anyone in their early 20s….I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions to the rules, but that makes me further question his motives. So I think he just wanted to sleep with me, and that as soon as he got what he wanted, he’s pulling a disappearing act. In other words, I think I got played and won’t hear from him again. What’s your read on the situation? I hope I’m not right, but I’m kind of thinking I am and would love your input.
Comment: You’re very perceptive. You got played. Older, horny guy got some ass from a young 22 year old and now wants nothing to do with you apparently. Not to mention, he’s still technically living with his wife and kids. Just remove yourself from the situation. Concentrate on grad school and forget this guy. You were used, plain and simple. And any call or text you get from in the future of him saying, “Oh Im sorry, I just got busy, would love to see you again” is just a booty call. If that’s what you want from the guy, great. Then go do it again. But don’t think for a second this guy is serious about any sort of relationship with you that isn’t sexual. Sorry.
Hi Steve! I love reading you column every week! I have a relationship question and I’m a high school student so I figured you could maybe offer some help. I went to a two week international leadership workshop this summer. I met about 100 teens there but some people I started talking to almost 6 months before we met. I had been talking to this one guy and we had a lot in common (interests, AP students, good grades) and skyped about once every other week before the workshop. At the workshop we became a lot closer and hooked up (no sex). This was a first time for both of us. First kiss, first boyfriend/girlfriend, first everything. We live about a 3 hour plane ride from each other so I just assumed he wouldn’t want to do long distance even though I felt like I was falling for him. When we said good bye at the airport he said I love you. I was completely taken aback because I didn’t know how strongly he felt about us and I just felt he would think a friends with benefits/open relationship with the distance would be better even though I personally don’t like those. Since the end of the workshop we text every day and have long skype calls every couple of days. He is actually amazing and just a really good hearted person. We both trust each other not to cheat because we haven’t had any relationships in the past. The next time we are seeing each other is mid december. What are your thoughts on long distance in high school? I know I should be living my teenage years and dating and doing all the girl things but at the same time why break up with a perfectly good relationship and a guy who is so good to me? Thanks for your help!!
Comment: Yesssssss!!!!!! The high schoolers are back…
Ummmmm, a long distance high school relationship? No. Never. Ever. It’s one thing to date a guy that doesn’t go your high school but maybe still goes to a rival high school of yours, but someone 3 hours away? In high school? Don’t bother.
And sweetie, he doesn’t love you. At 18, it’s puppy love and you’ve barely spent any time together. Stay friends with him, talk to him, text him, but don’t not enjoy high school life because of a guy who’s a 3 hour plane ride away. Seems like it was just more a fling between two kids that like each other and have stuff in common. But don’t cut off communication with him. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up at the same college and you can resume your “love” there.
Dr. Reality Steve,
I would love the male perspective on this, as the only good male friend I have is the one I’m writing about. Ok, so here is the deal. I’m a professor, and for the first time in 10 years of teaching, I have become friends (after the semester ended and there is no chance of him ever being a student at my college again) with a former student who happens to be close to my age (although he is a few years younger). We didn’t initiate friendship or anything during the semester, as I keep very strict boundaries, but once the semester was over he asked me if I’d like to “go out for drinks sometime.” This has turned into us hanging out 2-3 times per week (for the past 2 months), most of which he initiates (although I do my fair share if something fun comes up to invite him to). Anyway, we are clearly just friends, as he has never made a move (and he sits far away from me on the couch when we watch movies), but I’m trying to figure out if he’s interested. In my experience, if a man is truly interested, he will make a move at some point (I’m old fashioned, and I never initiate for the 1st time). But all my friends think he’s interested b/c they say men don’t spend that much time with a woman (especially one who used to be their professor) if there isn’t some interest. In addition, he shows up sometimes with gifts, he tells me what an amazing “catch” I am and how I deserve so much more than I’ve gotten in past relationships, he tells me how he tells his other friends about what a great catch I am, he wants to stay the night (in separate rooms) and go to breakfast the next day, he invites me on long road trips to his best friend’s wedding, etc. He has never once said no when I’ve invited him somewhere. So I either have a really good friend who is bored most of the time and has nothing better to do, or perhaps there is some interest. Btw, his background is that he’s Christian, doesn’t want to have premarital sex, and got out of a relationship a few months ago and told himself that the next girl he dates will be the one he marries so he’s not looking to date anyone casually. Maybe I’m in the “test phase” to see if he thinks I’m a worthy candidate OR maybe I’m simply just a friend and he’s not attracted. Sometimes I catch him looking me up and down, etc., but then again all men do that. He tells me about women who hit on him but he is never interested in them and comes up with reasons why they aren’t the right one for him. I sent him a gift once and he said “You have no idea how much this means to me. Seriously.”
I thought about just asking him but I am having fun and hate to ruin the friendship if he’s not interested. I also hate to be the creepy former professor who gets a reputation for hitting on a student (which isn’t the truth, but you know how rumors can spread). But I’m also reaching the point where I am tired of guessing. So many mixed messages. Cocktails are often involved so I figure if he were interested, he would have some liquid courage and do something about it, right??? Even if it’s just kissing or something pretty benign?
Sorry for being long-winded… just trying to paint an accurate picture.
Comment: Strange bird. How many times have you guys hung out? And how many times has he NOT touched you? I have no idea what’s going on with this guy other than to think he might be gay. You’re right. Who spends that much time with someone that they don’t even make a move on? And he doesn’t sit close to you on the couch when you’re watching a movie? Something is up. I think the only way you’re gonna get an answer to this is to initiate the move yourself. His reaction will be all you need to know. You’re tired of guessing, so take matters into your own hands. Cuz this pansy sure doesn’t look like he is. Go straddle him on the couch when watching your next movie and see what his reaction is. If he tells you to move because a good part is coming up, well then, you struck out. If your clothes are off in ten seconds, then you can thank Dr. Reality Steve later.
So my husband and I have been going through a tough time, and to make
a long story short we are not speaking and he is sleeping the couch.
Its been in the works, but now its all come full circle. He helps with
the kids when I need him to but other than that I feel like we are
I ran into an old childhood friend last week who I hadn’t see in 7
years ( since I met my husband – he made me end all friendships with
men when we started dating. I know- that should have been a clue) and
instantly we both went back to how things were with us like time never
passed. I met him the the 6th grade, he was in 7th. We grew up
together, he was my best friend through jr high and in high school we
both stayed friends but we always knew there was something more there
we never addressed. We never did anything phsyical, i think he tried
to hold my hand once but we were both scared to take the friendship to
the next level and neither of us had the balls to confront our
feelings that we both knew were there.
I’ve always thought of him and “what could have been”. I am friends
with his sister and have kept “tabs” on him through the years but he
was kind and gracious enough to understand when I told him my now
husband was uncomfortable with our friendship- he took a step back and
let me live my life. Dont they say – “if you love something, set it
free? ” thats what he did… and now ” if it comes back to you it was
always yours” is what is going through my mind now since reconnecting
it’s like no time has passed at all. I feel guilty with him texting me
and calling me when I’m on my way to and from work – times I’m not
home. But its nice to reconnect and yes, we both had admitted we
wished we had done things different back then and both regret not
taking that “next step”.. Other than the time I ran into him last
week, I have not seen him but he wants to meet to catch up and talk.
He went through what I am going through in a previous relationship and
we both have been burned the same way – I really want to see him and
rekindle what we had, but I feel so guilty and wrong thinking about
Granted, my husband is more a figure in the house with whom I am still
married to and have kids with and I dont take that lightly. I havent
been complimented by him in months, thanked, or appreciated for
anything I do for our family, and its nice to have that positive
attention from someone again. Is that wrong to want that, and be
craving it from my friend and enjoy all the attention again?
I know I shouldn’t meet with him because I am married, but technically
we are friends catching up – yet we both know there’s unspoken
attraction and feelings still lingering in the background. I am torn –
I know whats right and wrong but just dont want to feel guilty about
how things have happened – all innocently and unexpectedly in my
What are your thoughts? Thanks for your help.
Comment: You know you’re going to feel guilty for meeting up with this guy because you know exactly the reason why you’re meeting up with him. The excitement of someone new, the excitement of someone from your past, coupled with the fact your married life right now sucks. Is it safe to say you and your husband are only still together because of the kids? Sure seems like it since it doesn’t seem like he’s giving you anything you want or need in a marriage.
It’s not wrong at all to want a husband/boyfriend to compliment you, thank you, appreciate you, etc. Of course you want that. Who wouldn’t? But you’re married. And if you’re only still with the guy because of the kids, then you probably need to re-think your priorities. Look, you wouldn’t be the only married couple who’s staying together because of kids, and you certainly won’t be the last . Doesn’t make it right though. Your marriage doesn’t seem to be much of a marriage right now. So either fix it, or end it. No point in dragging it on. You certainly don’t sound happy with him.